Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 28 2013 - 2 Corinthians 2:5-17 – Satan’s devices defeated

From the beginning, Satan has been intent upon destroying the work of God. Though he may not be able to snatch the child of God from the pierced hands of Christ he can do much damage; he can destroy their testimony to Christ or rob them of their assurance of salvation and of the joy and peace that flow from it.

Paul writes to the Christians at Corinth to give pastoral advice concerning one of their number who had gone astray. They had followed Paul’s advice in disciplining this individual but, now that he has been brought to repentance, they are in danger of driving him to despair by continued hard treatment. Assure him of your love and acceptance, says Paul. Assure him that he is forgiven so that Satan does not get the better of him. “We are not ignorant of his devices”, Paul concludes. We know how Satan thinks; we know the ways he schemes and seeks to rob the child of God of the blessings of their salvation. Knowing how he works enables us to be active in working against him at every turn and, by the power of the Spirit of God, ensuring that he does not win the battle.

We need to be spiritually aware. We are not to become fascinated by Satan, but we are to become familiar with the way in which he works, both in our own lives and in the lives of others. If we would withstand his attacks upon ourselves, and if we would guard and strengthen Christian friends against his attacks, we need to be familiar with the way he works. We need to be good doctors, diagnosing the disease in order to prescribe the right medicine. Paul told the Ephesian elders to “Keep watch over yourselves and over every one of the flock for whom the Holy Spirit has made you responsible” (Acts 20:28). This is, in measure, the calling of every Christian – and for this we need to be aware of Satan’s devices.

We have a real and dangerous adversary. Peter speaks of him as being like a roaring lion, prowling about seeking someone to devour. But he is no match for Christ, nor for the Spirit whom God has given us. Recognise the roar; be prepared for the attack and you will send him away hungry.

Paul concludes the verses we have read today with a paradoxical picture. His readers at Corinth would have been familiar with triumphal processions which were accompanied by incense burnt to the gods, with its fragrance wafting over the spectators. To many, Paul appears to be a conquered slave, exposed to public ridicule. But it is Christ who has captured him and he thanks God that he has been drawn to follow in Christ’s victory procession. The sweet smell of the gospel hangs over these happy followers and reaches to all around them. To some it is a pleasing aroma that brings life. Others cannot stand the message of a crucified Saviour; it is repugnant to them. This same message, which brings life to those who embrace it, brings death to those who reject it.

“Who is equal to such a task?” asks Paul. He recognises that he is engaged in life-and-death issues. The victory procession may have begun, but the battle is not yet over. There is a battle still to be waged against an unbelieving world; a battle of love which seeks to win them with “the pleasing aroma of Christ”. And there is a continuing struggle against Satan’s forays within the fellowship of God’s people. Who is equal to such a task? We are – but only as we follow in Christ’s victory procession and rely upon the power of his Spirit.

Lord Jesus Christ, you have conquered Satan, sin and death. Gladly we follow you in your victory procession. May our lives convey something of the sweet smell of the gospel to those around us, bringing life to many. May Satan be robbed of his kingdom and his power.

Aug 28 2019 - Jeremiah 52:1-27 – The fall of Jerusalem

Zedekiah's reign had been marked by idolatry (58:1-2). Yesterday we read of how he ignored the warnings of Jeremiah. Today we read of his grizzly fate.

Babylon was the dominant power in this area at the time having defeated the Egyptian army at the decisive battle of Carchemish. Zedekiah had been set up as a puppet king by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He was expected to live in permanent submission to Babylon's power and will. But he decided that he had had enough: "Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon" (52:3).

As might have been suspected when a minor kingdom rebels against a mighty empire, "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. They encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it" (v.4). The siege lasted three years until the people had nothing left to eat and no strength to resist attack. Then the Babylonians broke through the city wall and the city and its inhabitants were theirs.

It is illuminating to read that the king, his nobles and his army sought to flee from the city by night through one of its gates: "but the Babylonian army pursued King Zedekiah and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured" (vv.8-9). He was taken off to Riblah, a city in the plain on the road between Egypt and Mesopotamia. There his sons were killed in front of him and his eyes were then gouged out. The death of his sons, and with them the hope of his successors being kings of Judah, would be the last sight he would remember. He was then taken off to Babylon in chains and imprisoned until the day of his death. His fate was precisely in accordance with Jeremiah's word from the Lord in Jeremiah 36:29-30.

Having got rid of King Zedekiah, the Babylonians destroyed the temple and the royal palaces in Jerusalem. The walls of the city were then turned into rubble before taking off many of its residents into captivity in Babylon, along with all of the treasures from the temple. All of the leaders of the city were also taken off to Riblah where they were put to death. "So Judah went into captivity, away from her land" (v.28).

It is a tragic story and one that could have been so different if the people had turned to the Lord in repentance.

But I want to draw a comparison and contrast with another king of the Jews. He also refused to submit to the powers his day. He also was hounded to his death. His friends also fled. But he was not defeated for the chains of death could not hold him. Jesus rose from the dead as king of the Jews, the Messiah, but also as Lord and Saviour of the world. He is Lord over a kingdom that will never be defeated. He rescues from captivity all who will trust in him and makes them heirs with him of his kingdom.

So be it, Lord; thy throne shall never
Like earth's proud empires, pass away;
Thy Kingdom stands, and grows for ever,
Till all thy creatures own thy sway.

Living God, we thank you that your judgment upon a rebellious world fell not on us but upon the Lord Jesus. Lord Jesus, we thank you that you were willing to submit to an unjust and cruel death that we may go free. Help us not to flee from you but to flee to you that we might become part of your kingdom. Help us then to tell others of our glorious King and his eternal kingdom.

Peter Misselbrook